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Exposed (WR/TE matchups) - Week 14

Breaks down some of the best and worst WR and TE matchups this week to help craft your lineups.

This article attempts to highlight some of the best and worst matchups for wide receivers and tight ends each week. Using player tracking data from various sources (NFL.com, Pro Football Focus, ESPN, etc.) as well as reviews of recent trends, I look for situations to exploit or avoid when setting your weekly lineups. Given that this article is intended to help across all sites (both DFS and season-long), variations in pricing and scoring systems are not taken into account so obviously, the values could shift depending on where you are playing. The main intent of this article is simply to call out some players who could be significantly helped or hurt by their situations each week. I will also try to sort them in order of most favorable or least favorable where possible, but obviously, the quality of the player needs to be factored in as well when making your decisions.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me via email (rudnicki@footballguys.com) or twitter (@a_rudnicki)

Favorable Matchups

WR Michael Thomas, NO vs TB (Carlton Davis)
Tampa may start to get some cornerbacks back this week as Brent Grimes as a full participant in practice and Carlton Davis was limited, but they could be without their top safety (Justin Evans) and their top pass rusher (Jason Pierre-Paul). Thomas moves around the formation often but lines up primarily on the left, which points to a likely matchup with the rookie Davis at less than 100% if he’s able to play. Note that Thomas went off for 16 catches, 180 yards, and a touchdown when these two teams met way back in Week 1.

WR Amari Cooper, DAL vs PHI (Sidney Jones)
The Eagles cornerback group has been decimated with injuries and it doesn’t appear that Jalen Mills will return this week. That leaves Rasul Douglas and Sidney Jones outside, where Cooper lines up the vast majority of time. He’s also been red hot of late with 16/255/2 over his last two games, so he should have little trouble beating up on this beat-up secondary.

WR Stefon Diggs, MIN vs SEA (Tre Flowers, Shaq Griffin)
Seattle has done a much better job defending slot receivers than they have perimeter receivers this year. That bodes well for Stefon Diggs this week, who is playing hurt but still caught 5-of-5 targets last week in a tough matchup against Stefon Gilmore. If healthy, he should have an edge over Tre Flowers and Shaq Griffin this week while Adam Thielen should draw a more difficult matchup against Justin Coleman inside, although it’s not enough to downgrade him significantly.

WR Mike Evans, TB vs NO (Marshon Lattimore)
While Lattimore is one of the most talented cornerbacks in the league, he has had a disappointing season and the Saints have allowed more points to outside receivers than any team in the league. Mike Evans took advantage of him in Week 1 and finished with 7/147/1. Lattimore will likely shadow Evans this week, which would leave Eli Apple on Chris Godwin and P.J. Williams on Adam Humphries but all look like reasonable options in what should be a high-scoring game.

WR Dante Pettis, SF vs DEN (Justin Simmons)
The Broncos are going to miss Chris Harris Jr, who is arguably the league’s best slot corner. He suffered a broken leg last week and was replaced by free safety Simmons. That should be a key matchup for the 49ers to target this week, and Pettis figures to be the primary slot receiver with the expected return of Marquise Goodwin. He’s also emerging as a valuable target for Nick Mullens with 3 touchdowns over the last two games on 9 catches and 206 yards.

WR Jarvis Landry, CLE vs CAR (Captain Munnerlyn)
The Panthers have struggled against perimeter receivers for most of the season but the Browns outside receivers haven’t been consistent enough to trust here. The best matchup likely goes to Landry, who bounced back last week with a 6-catch, 103-yard performance against the Texans. He’ll face a matchup with Munnerlyn, who has helped allow Buccaneers slot receiver Adam Humphries to 7/61/1 and 8/82/2 games over the past month.

WR Courtland Sutton, DEN vs SF (Akhello Witherspoon)
The Broncos receiver group lost their top target when Emmanuel Sanders went down with an injury in practice this week. That leaves the rookie Sutton as the clear #1 and he should have a very winnable matchup against Witherspoon on the left side. Fellow rookie DaeSean Hamilton also figures to get a boost while working out of the slot against K'Waun Williams while Tim Patrick will most likely be erased by Richard Sherman.

WR Julian Edelman, NE vs MIA (Bobby McCain)
The Dolphins will be without their top corner Xavien Howard, who leads the league with seven interceptions this year. That likely bumps rookie Minkah Fitzpatrick outside to match up with Josh Gordon and leaves Edelman to take on McCain out of the slot. While McCain had a solid start to the season, he has struggled of late and is unlikely to hold up well against one of the league’s best slot receivers in Edelman

WR Sterling Shepard, NYG vs WAS (Greg Stroman)
Odell Beckham Jr figures to be shadowed by Josh Norman this week. While Beckham was very productive back in week 8 when these teams met, Norman only gave up three catches for 26 yards to him in that game. Regardless, the matchup to target here is likely Shepard working out of the slot against 7th round rookie corner Greg Stroman. An injury to Quinton Dunbar will bump Fabian Moreau outside and leave Stroman as the nickel corner. He had a rough outing against Golden Tate last week so Shepard should have a clear advantage here, assuming his rib injury doesn’t slow him down too much.

TE Vance McDonald, PIT vs OAK
We just saw Travis Kelce obliterate this defense with 12 catches for 168 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Raiders have allowed the 2nd-most points to the tight end position on the year even though they only rank 19th in targets allowed. That points to some pretty big upside for McDonald this week, who has been quiet over the past few weeks with one touchdown and no games over 30 yards.

Unfavorable Matchups

WR Kenny Golladay, DET vs ARI (Patrick Peterson)
The Lions offense could be in trouble this week as Patrick Peterson is likely to shadow Golladay and take away their primary offensive threat. Golladay may still find success when working out of the slot, however, as Davante Adams, Keenan Allen, and Tyreek Hill all had success against a similar matchup over the past month.

WR Tyreek Hill, KC vs BAL (Brandon Carr)
The Ravens have been an extremely difficult matchup for opposing wide receivers all season. They shut down Julio Jones last week and also kept Antonio Brown and Michael Thomas in check. Hill’s speed makes him one of the most matchup-proof receivers in the league but the Ravens will look to control the game and keep the Chiefs offense off the field with their ground game here. Fewer expected drives plus a tough matchup is likely enough to downgrade Hill in this matchup, and things won’t be much easier for Chris Conley since the Ravens have allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to outside receivers.

WR Robert Woods, LAR vs CHI (Bryce Callahan)
Since Cooper Kupp went on I.R., Woods has taken over as the primary slot receiver for the Rams. That points to a surprisingly tough matchup this week against Callahan, who is having a breakout season and has allowed 23 or fewer yards in 5 of his last 6 games with the only glitch coming on Thanksgiving against the Lions.

NYJ Robby Anderson, NYJ vs BUF (TreDavious White)
Miami had some success against the Bills defense last week with a pair of touchdowns to outside receivers, but no opposing receiver has gone over 50 yards against them in their last 4 games. They have allowed the fewest points to perimeter receivers all season thanks primarily to the play of White, who continues to play at an elite level. He’s expected to shadow Anderson this week, which will likely result in more targets for Quincy Enunwa and Jermaine Kearse.

WR Antonio Brown, PIT vs OAK (Gareon Conley)
While this certainly doesn’t look like a tough matchup on the surface, it may be tougher than expected. Gareon Conley is a former 1st round pick who has played very well of late with just 15 total yards allowed on two catches over his last three games. That includes last week’s matchup with the Chiefs, where Tyreek Hill finished with just one catch for 13 yards. Most of the damage against the Raiders in the passing game of late has been done by tight ends, although Brown and Juju Smith-Schuster are certainly good enough to end that trend this week.

TE Evan Engram, NYG vs WAS
Zach Ertz had a pretty standard 9/83/0 game against this defense last week but it has been one of the toughest matchups for opposing tight ends all year. They have one of the best safety tandems in the league and also some talented inside linebackers that should help keep Engram in check. It has been a disappointing season for Engram, who should return to the lineup after missing the last two games with a hamstring injury but may not be 100%.

TE Cameron Brate, TB vs NO
The Saints have only allowed one touchdown to an opposing tight end all season and recently limited Zach Ertz to a 2/15/0 game. They have allowed the 2nd-fewest points to the position all year and Brate hasn’t really been able to take advantage of the increased opportunity following the season-ending injury to O.J. Howard with just 6/61/1 over his last two games combined.